“On Black History Month, I take great pride in honoring my great-great-great-great grandmother Josefa Antonia Pesante by sharing her story. I translated this story from a post by Sonny Falú-Allende. I was born in Puerto Rico- as were my parents. Puerto Ricans tend to have ancestry from African, Spanish, and Native Indian (Taino) descent. During a time of slavery, her courageous actions paved the way for all of her Pesante descendants. Thank you to Sonny for sharing some of our history.” Fredy Pesante, President E-INFOSOL 

This is Mama Toña, my great-great-grandmother. Her full name was Josefa Antonia Pesante. The Pesante surname is the surname of her masters from Añasco, Puerto Rico. The photo shown was the first to be taken after slavery was abolished. She was a house slave, (she worked inside the house), and was in charge of the care and upbringing of one of the daughters of the Pesante masters. She tells this, in a letter she wrote.  You see, she learned to read and write from the girl she cared for. Mama Toña says that she felt in her heart that she would die free, which is why she urges her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to study in that letter. She narrated some of the pain of being illiterate. She talks about how blacks, who were forbidden to learn, couldn’t send each other notes. How they had to adopt various shouts, sounds, and drumbeats to inform others about problems (dangers), events (joy), or plans (meetings, etc.). This photo was taken so that we, her descendants, would have evidence that she did live the last days of her life as a free woman. The clothing she made reflects the Spanish fashion trends of the moment. People of color, for obvious reasons, were disconnected from African fashion. She is the mother of Julián Pesante, a freed slave since she paid for his freedom at the baptismal font. We do not know who Julian’s father was. We assume that he is the child of one of the men of the house since as a slave she also had to sexually serve any of her masters. It seems that it was a very painful experience because she does not say anything about that person in her writings. As a teenager, Julián moved to San Juan where he studied, and was one of the construction managers of the Dos Hermanos bridge in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He reached a high economic position, he interacted with outstanding people of the moment. Mama Toña died like a queen living in her son Julián’s house in Santurce. (Written by Sonny Falú-Allende)